Dr Claudia Turner

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: tropical neonatology and paediatrics
Web Links:

Claudia is a consultant paediatrician and clinician scientist with the University of Oxford. Since 2015, she has been Chief Executive Officer of Angkor Hospital for Children.

Claudia spent six years as a research paediatrician with the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) on the Thailand – Myanmar border where she worked in Maela Camp for displaced persons. She conducted research on infant and early childhood pneumonia and early onset neonatal sepsis. This work resulted in her PhD thesis describing in detail the epidemiology of these conditions in the refugee population and interventions which were successful in substantially reducing neonatal mortality. In 2012 Claudia moved to Cambodia to be the Director of Clinical Research at the Cambodia Oxford Medical Research Unit in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a close collaborative partner of the Angkor Hospital for Children.

 

Claudia’s current research interests include:

  • Neonatal healthcare in resource poor settings
  • Childhood pneumonia
  • Healthcare implementation research
  • Antibiotic stewardship 

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Kim Mulholland Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Australia
Dr Harish Nair The University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
Professor Stephen Bentley Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute United Kingdom
Janet S, Carrara VI, Simpson JA, Thin NWW, Say WW, Paw NTM, Chotivanich K, Turner C, Crawley J, McGready R. 2018. Early neonatal mortality and neurological outcomes of neonatal resuscitation in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: A descriptive study. PLoS One, 13 (1), pp. e0190419. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Of the 4 million neonatal deaths worldwide yearly, 98% occur in low and middle-income countries. Effective resuscitation reduces mortality and morbidity but long-term outcomes in resource-limited settings are poorly described. This study reports on newborn neurological outcomes following resuscitation at birth in a resource-limited setting where intensive newborn care including intubation is unavailable. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of births records from 2008 to 2015 at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) on the Thailand-Myanmar border. FINDINGS: From 21,225 newbonrs delivered, 15,073 (71%) met the inclusion criteria (liveborn, singleton, ≥28 weeks' gestation, delivered in SMRU). Neonatal resuscitation was performed in 460 (3%; 422 basic, 38 advanced) cases. Overall early neonatal mortality was 6.6 deaths per 1000 live births (95% CI 5.40-8.06). Newborns receiving basic and advanced resuscitation presented an adjusted rate for death of 1.30 (95%CI 0.66-2.55; p = 0.442), and 6.32 (95%CI 3.01-13.26; p<0.001) respectively, compared to newborns given routine care. Main factors related to increased need for resuscitation were breech delivery, meconium, and fetal distress (p<0.001). Neurodevelopmental follow-up to one year was performed in 1,608 (10.5%) of the 15,073 newborns; median neurodevelopmental scores of non-resuscitated newborns and those receiving basic resuscitation were similar (64 (n = 1565) versus 63 (n = 41); p = 0.732), while advanced resuscitation scores were significantly lower (56 (n = 5); p = 0.017). INTERPRETATIONS: Newborns requiring basic resuscitation at birth have normal neuro-developmental outcomes at one year of age compared to low-risk newborns. Identification of risk factors (e.g., breech delivery) associated with increased need for neonatal resuscitation may facilitate allocation of staff to high-risk deliveries. This work endorses the use of basic resuscitation in low-resource settings, and supports on-going staff training to maintain bag-and-mask ventilation skills.

Turner P, Suy K, Tan LV, Sar P, Miliya T, Hong NTT, Hang VTT, Ny NTH, Soeng S, Day NPJ et al. 2017. The aetiologies of central nervous system infections in hospitalised Cambodian children. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 806. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Central nervous system (CNS) infections are an important cause of childhood morbidity and mortality. The aetiologies of these potentially vaccine-preventable infections have not been well established in Cambodia. METHODS: We did a one year prospective study of children hospitalised with suspected CNS infection at Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap. Cerebrospinal fluid specimens (CSF) samples underwent culture, multiplex PCR and serological analysis to identify a range of bacterial and viral pathogens. Viral metagenomics was performed on a subset of pathogen negative specimens. RESULTS: Between 1st October 2014 and 30th September 2015, 284 analysable patients were enrolled. The median patient age was 2.6 years; 62.0% were aged <5 years. CSF white blood cell count was ≥10 cells/μL in 116/272 (42.6%) cases. CNS infection was microbiologically confirmed in 55 children (19.3%). Enteroviruses (21/55), Japanese encephalitis virus (17/55), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (7/55) accounted for 45 (81.8%) of all pathogens identified. Of the pathogens detected, 74.5% (41/55) were viruses and 23.6% (13/55) were bacteria. The majority of patients were treated with ceftriaxone empirically. The case fatality rate was 2.5%. CONCLUSIONS: Enteroviruses, JEV and S. pneumoniae are the most frequently detected causes of CNS infection in hospitalised Cambodian children.

Fox-Lewis S, Pol S, Miliya T, Day NPJ, Turner P, Turner C. 2018. Utilization of a clinical microbiology service at a Cambodian paediatric hospital and its impact on appropriate antimicrobial prescribing. J Antimicrob Chemother, 73 (2), pp. 509-516. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Antimicrobial resistance threatens human health worldwide. Antimicrobial misuse is a major driver of resistance. Promoting appropriate antimicrobial use requires an understanding of how clinical microbiology services are utilized, particularly in resource-limited settings. Objectives: To assess the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing and the factors affecting utilization of the established clinical microbiology service (CMS). The CMS comprises the microbiology laboratory, clinical microbiologists (infection doctors) and antimicrobial treatment guidelines. Methods: This mixed-methods study was conducted at a non-governmental Cambodian paediatric hospital. Empirical and post-culture antimicrobial prescriptions were reviewed from medical records. The random sample included 10 outpatients per week in 2016 (retrospective) and 20 inpatients per week for 4 weeks in the medical, neonatal and intensive care wards (prospective). Post-culture prescriptions were assessed in patients with positive blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with clinicians explored barriers and facilitators to use of the CMS. Results: Only 31% of outpatients were prescribed empirical antimicrobials. Post-culture prescriptions (394/443, 89%) were more likely to be appropriate than empirical prescriptions (447/535, 84%), based on treatment guidelines, microbiology advice and antimicrobial susceptibility test results (P = 0.015). Being comprehensive, accessible and trusted enabled CMS utilization. Clinical microbiologists provided a crucial human interface between the CMS and physicians. The main barriers were a strong clinical hierarchy and occasional communication difficulties. Conclusions: Antimicrobial prescribing in this hospital was largely appropriate. A culturally appropriate human interface linking the laboratory and physicians is essential in providing effective microbiology services and ensuring appropriate antimicrobial prescribing in resource-limited settings.

Salter SJ, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, de Goffau MC, Wagner J, Parkhill J, Bentley SD, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Turner P. 2017. A longitudinal study of the infant nasopharyngeal microbiota: The effects of age, illness and antibiotic use in a cohort of South East Asian children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (10), pp. e0005975. | Show Abstract | Read more

A longitudinal study was undertaken in infants living in the Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border between 2007 and 2010. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected monthly, from birth to 24 months of age, with additional swabs taken if the infant was diagnosed with pneumonia according to WHO clinical criteria. At the time of collection, swabs were cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and multiple serotype carriage was assessed. The bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of 544 swabs from 21 infants were analysed to see how the microbiota changes with age, respiratory infection, antibiotic consumption and pneumococcal acquisition. The nasopharyngeal microbiota is a somewhat homogenous community compared to that of other body sites. In this cohort it is dominated by five taxa: Moraxella, Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Corynebacterium and an uncharacterized Flavobacteriaceae taxon of 93% nucleotide similarity to Ornithobacterium. Infant age correlates with certain changes in the microbiota across the cohort: Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium are associated with the first few months of life while Moraxella and the uncharacterised Flavobacteriaceae increase in proportional abundance with age. Respiratory illness and antibiotic use often coincide with an unpredictable perturbation of the microbiota that differs from infant to infant and in different illness episodes. The previously described interaction between Dolosigranulum and Streptococcus was observed in these data. Monthly sampling demonstrates that the nasopharyngeal microbiota is in flux throughout the first two years of life, and that in this refugee camp population the pool of potential bacterial colonisers may be limited.

Pol S, Fox-Lewis S, Cheah PY, Turner C. 2017. "Know your audience": A hospital community engagement programme in a non-profit paediatric hospital in Cambodia. PLoS One, 12 (8), pp. e0182573. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this evaluation is to explore the impact of the new hospital community engagement programme (comprised of a Young Persons Advisory Group and a Science Café) on community members and other stakeholders, with regard to their attitudes, skills and degree of engagement in a paediatric hospital in Cambodia. DESIGN: Data collection included feedback questionnaires and reflections produced after each YPAG and Science Café event. Further questionnaires and reflective interviews were conducted to gather the views of key stakeholders. Data were analysed by thematic content analysis and numerical data were expressed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: The vast majority of participants expressed their enjoyment and satisfaction of the hospital community engagement programme. Delivering the programme in the right manner for the target audiences, by prioritising their needs was key to this. Participants valued the programmes in terms of the knowledge delivered around good health practices, the skills developed such as confidence and responsibility for their health, and the provision of opportunities to voice their opinions. All stakeholders recognised the importance of the programme in improving the quality of the healthcare service provided at the hospital. CONCLUSIONS: In order to have a successful hospital community engagement programme, understanding the target audience is essential. The engagement programme must be delivered in the right way to meet the needs of community members, including right communication, right setting, right people and right timing. This will ultimately result in a meaningful programme that is able to empower community members, potentially resulting in lasting change in healthcare practices. In conclusion, the gap between hospitals and the community could narrow, allowing everyone to interact and learn from each other.

Lees JA, Croucher NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Parkhill J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD. 2017. Genome-wide identification of lineage and locus specific variation associated with pneumococcal carriage duration. Elife, 6 | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of invasive disease in infants, especially in low-income settings. Asymptomatic carriage in the nasopharynx is a prerequisite for disease, but variability in its duration is currently only understood at the serotype level. Here we developed a model to calculate the duration of carriage episodes from longitudinal swab data, and combined these results with whole genome sequence data. We estimated that pneumococcal genomic variation accounted for 63% of the phenotype variation, whereas the host traits considered here (age and previous carriage) accounted for less than 5%. We further partitioned this heritability into both lineage and locus effects, and quantified the amount attributable to the largest sources of variation in carriage duration: serotype (17%), drug-resistance (9%) and other significant locus effects (7%). A pan-genome-wide association study identified prophage sequences as being associated with decreased carriage duration independent of serotype, potentially by disruption of the competence mechanism. These findings support theoretical models of pneumococcal competition and antibiotic resistance.

Shi T, McAllister DA, O'Brien KL, Simoes EAF, Madhi SA, Gessner BD, Polack FP, Balsells E, Acacio S, Aguayo C et al. 2017. Global, regional, and national disease burden estimates of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children in 2015: a systematic review and modelling study. Lancet, 390 (10098), pp. 946-958. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: We have previously estimated that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was associated with 22% of all episodes of (severe) acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) resulting in 55 000 to 199 000 deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2005. In the past 5 years, major research activity on RSV has yielded substantial new data from developing countries. With a considerably expanded dataset from a large international collaboration, we aimed to estimate the global incidence, hospital admission rate, and mortality from RSV-ALRI episodes in young children in 2015. METHODS: We estimated the incidence and hospital admission rate of RSV-associated ALRI (RSV-ALRI) in children younger than 5 years stratified by age and World Bank income regions from a systematic review of studies published between Jan 1, 1995, and Dec 31, 2016, and unpublished data from 76 high quality population-based studies. We estimated the RSV-ALRI incidence for 132 developing countries using a risk factor-based model and 2015 population estimates. We estimated the in-hospital RSV-ALRI mortality by combining in-hospital case fatality ratios with hospital admission estimates from hospital-based (published and unpublished) studies. We also estimated overall RSV-ALRI mortality by identifying studies reporting monthly data for ALRI mortality in the community and RSV activity. FINDINGS: We estimated that globally in 2015, 33·1 million (uncertainty range [UR] 21·6-50·3) episodes of RSV-ALRI, resulted in about 3·2 million (2·7-3·8) hospital admissions, and 59 600 (48 000-74 500) in-hospital deaths in children younger than 5 years. In children younger than 6 months, 1·4 million (UR 1·2-1·7) hospital admissions, and 27 300 (UR 20 700-36 200) in-hospital deaths were due to RSV-ALRI. We also estimated that the overall RSV-ALRI mortality could be as high as 118 200 (UR 94 600-149 400). Incidence and mortality varied substantially from year to year in any given population. INTERPRETATION: Globally, RSV is a common cause of childhood ALRI and a major cause of hospital admissions in young children, resulting in a substantial burden on health-care services. About 45% of hospital admissions and in-hospital deaths due to RSV-ALRI occur in children younger than 6 months. An effective maternal RSV vaccine or monoclonal antibody could have a substantial effect on disease burden in this age group. FUNDING: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Turner C, Pol S, Suon K, Neou L, Day NPJ, Parker M, Kingori P. 2017. Beliefs and practices during pregnancy, post-partum and in the first days of an infant's life in rural Cambodia. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 17 (1), pp. 116. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to record the beliefs, practices during pregnancy, post-partum and in the first few days of an infant's life, held by a cross section of the community in rural Cambodia to determine beneficial community interventions to improve early neonatal health. METHODS: Qualitative study design with data generated from semi structured interviews (SSI) and focus group discussions (FGD). Data were analysed by thematic content analysis, with an a priori coding structure developed using available relevant literature. Further reading of the transcripts permitted additional coding to be performed in vivo. This study was conducted in two locations, firstly the Angkor Hospital for Children and secondarily in five villages in Sotnikum, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. RESULTS: A total of 20 participants underwent a SSIs (15 in hospital and five in the community) and six (three in hospital and three in the community; a total of 58 participants) FGDs were conducted. Harmful practices that occurred in the past (for example: discarding colostrum and putting mud on the umbilical stump) were not described as being practiced. Village elders did not enforce traditional views. Parents could describe signs of illness and felt responsible to seek care for their child even if other family members disagreed, however participants were unaware of the signs or danger of neonatal jaundice. Cost of transportation was the major barrier to healthcare that was identified. CONCLUSIONS: In the population examined, traditional practices in late pregnancy and the post-partum period were no longer commonly performed. However, jaundice, a potentially serious neonatal condition, was not recognised. Community neonatal interventions should be tailored to the populations existing practice and knowledge.

Hearn P, Miliya T, Seng S, Ngoun C, Day NPJ, Lubell Y, Turner C, Turner P. 2017. Prospective surveillance of healthcare associated infections in a Cambodian pediatric hospital. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 6 (1), pp. 16. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are the most common preventable adverse events following admission to healthcare facilities. Data from low-income countries are scarce. We sought to prospectively define HAI incidence at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), a Cambodian pediatric referral hospital. METHODS: Prospective HAI surveillance was introduced for medical admissions to AHC. Cases were identified on daily ward rounds and confirmed using locally adapted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions. During the surveillance period, established infection prevention and control (IPC) activities continued, including hand hygiene surveillance. In addition, antimicrobial stewardship practices such as the creation of an antimicrobial guideline smartphone app were introduced. RESULTS: Between 1st January and 31st December 2015 there were 3,263 medical admissions and 102 HAI cases. The incidence of HAI was 4.6/1,000 patient-days (95% confidence interval 3.8-5.6) and rates were highest amongst neonates. Median length of stay was significantly longer in HAI cases: 25 days versus 5 days for non-HAI cases (p < 0.0001). All-cause in-hospital mortality increased from 2.0 to 16.1% with HAI (p < 0.0001). Respiratory infections were the most common HAI (54/102; 52.9%). Amongst culture positive infections, Gram-negative organisms predominated (13/16; 81.3%). Resistance to third generation cephalosporins was common, supporting the use of more expensive carbapenem drugs empirically in HAI cases. The total cost of treatment for all 102 HCAI cases combined, based on additional inpatient days, was estimated to be $299,608. CONCLUSIONS: Prospective HAI surveillance can form part of routine practice in low-income healthcare settings. HAI incidence at AHC was relatively low, but human and financial costs remained high due to increased carbapenem use, prolonged admissions and higher mortality rates.

Thielemans L, Trip-Hoving M, Bancone G, Turner C, Simpson JA, Hanboonkunupakarn B, van Hensbroek MB, van Rheenen P, Paw MK, Nosten F et al. 2017. Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia in a Marginalized Population on the Thai-Myanmar Border: a study protocol. BMC Pediatr, 17 (1), pp. 32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: This study aims to identify risk factors and the neurodevelopmental impact of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in a limited-resource setting among a refugee and migrant population residing along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area with a high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-deficiency. METHODS: This is an analytic, observational, prospective birth cohort study including all infants of estimated gestational age equal to or greater than 28 weeks from mothers who followed antenatal care in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinics. At birth, a series of clinical exams and laboratory investigations on cord blood will be carried out. Serum bilirubin will be measured in all infants during their first week of life. All the infants of the cohort will be clinically followed until the age of one year, including monitoring of their neurodevelopment. DISCUSSION: The strength of this study is the prospective cohort design. It will allow us to collect information about the pregnancy and detect all infants with neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, to observe their clinical response under treatment and to compare their neurodevelopment with infants who did not develop neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Our study design has some limitations in particular the generalizability of our findings will be limited to infants born after the gestational age of 28 weeks onwards and neurodevelopment to the end of the first year of life. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov ID NCT02361788 , registration date September 1st, 2014.

Turner P, Kloprogge S, Miliya T, Soeng S, Tan P, Sar P, Yos P, Moore CE, Wuthiekanun V, Limmathurotsakul D et al. 2016. A retrospective analysis of melioidosis in Cambodian children, 2009-2013. BMC Infect Dis, 16 (1), pp. 688. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidiosis, infection by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is an important but frequently under-recognised cause of morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the tropics. Data on the epidemiology of paediatric melioidosis in Cambodia are extremely limited. METHODS: Culture-positive melioidosis cases presenting to Angkor Hospital for Children, a non-governmental paediatric hospital located in Siem Reap, Northern Cambodia, between 1stJanuary 2009 and 31stDecember 2013 were identified by searches of hospital and laboratory databases and logbooks. RESULTS: One hundred seventy-three evaluable cases were identified, presenting from eight provinces. For Siem Reap province, the median commune level incidence was estimated to be 28-35 cases per 100,000 children <15 years per year. Most cases presented during the wet season, May to October. The median age at presentation was 5.7 years (range 8 days-15.9 years). Apart from undernutrition, co-morbidities were rare. Three quarters (131/173) of the children had localised infection, most commonly skin/soft tissue infection (60 cases) or suppurative parotitis (51 cases). There were 39 children with B. pseudomallei bacteraemia: 29 (74.4%) of these had clinical and/or radiological evidence of pneumonia. Overall mortality was 16.8% (29/173) with mortality in bacteraemic cases of 71.8% (28/39). At least seven children did not receive an antimicrobial with activity against B. pseudomallei prior to death. CONCLUSIONS: This retrospective study demonstrated a considerable burden of melioidosis in Cambodian children. Given the high mortality associated with bacteraemic infection, there is an urgent need for greater awareness amongst healthcare professionals in Cambodia and other countries where melioidosis is known or suspected to be endemic. Empiric treatment guidelines should ensure suspected cases are treated early with appropriate antimicrobials.

Mcgready R, Turner C, Rijken M, Wong N, Salisbury P, Chandra A, Nosten F, Bendell B, Moore K, Sneddon A. 2016. Impact of ALSO (R) Australasia on PPH-Related Maternal Mortality on the Thailand-Myanmar Border in a Population Based Cohort Study AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF OBSTETRICS & GYNAECOLOGY, 56 pp. 24-25.

Turner P, Pol S, Soeng S, Sar P, Neou L, Chea P, Day NP, Cooper BS, Turner C. 2016. High Prevalence of Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative Colonization in Hospitalized Cambodian Infants. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 35 (8), pp. 856-861. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative infections are a significant cause of mortality in young infants. We aimed to determine characteristics of, and risk factors for, colonization and invasive infection caused by 3rd generation cephalosporin (3GC) or carbapenem-resistant organisms in outborn infants admitted to a neonatal unit (NU) in Cambodia. METHODS: During the first year of operation, patients admitted to the Angkor Hospital for Children NU, Siem Reap, Cambodia, underwent rectal swabbing on admission and twice weekly until discharge. Swabs were taken also from 7 environmental sites. Swabs were cultured to identify 3GC or carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter sp., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. RESULTS: The study included 333 infants with a median age at NU admission of 10 days (range, 0-43). Colonization by ≥1 3GC-resistant organism was detected in 85.9% (286/333). Admission swabs were collected in 289 infants: 61.9% were colonized by a 3GC-resistant organism at the time of admission, and a further 23.2% were colonized during hospitalization, at a median of 4 days [95% confidence interval: 3-5]. Probiotic treatment (hazard ratio: 0.58; 95% confidence interval: 0.35-0.98) was associated with delayed colonization. Colonization by a carbapenem-resistant organism occurred in 25 (7.5%) infants. Six infants had NU-associated K. pneumoniae bacteremia; phenotypically identical colonizing strains were found in 3 infants. Environmental colonization occurred early. CONCLUSIONS: Colonization by antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative organisms occurred early in hospitalized Cambodian infants and was associated with subsequent invasive infection. Trials of potential interventions such as probiotics are needed.

Sheppard AE, Vaughan A, Jones N, Turner P, Turner C, Efstratiou A, Patel D, Modernising Medical Microbiology Informatics Group, Walker AS, Berkley JA et al. 2016. Capsular Typing Method for Streptococcus agalactiae Using Whole-Genome Sequence Data. J Clin Microbiol, 54 (5), pp. 1388-1390. | Show Abstract | Read more

Group B streptococcus (GBS) capsular serotypes are major determinants of virulence and affect potential vaccine coverage. Here we report a whole-genome-sequencing-based method for GBS serotype assignment. This method shows strong agreement (kappa of 0.92) with conventional methods and increased serotype assignment (100%) to all 10 capsular types.

Turner P, Pol S, Soeng S, Sar P, Neou L, Chea P, Day NPJ, Cooper BS, Turner C. 2016. High Prevalence of Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative Colonization in Hospitalized Cambodian Infants PEDIATRIC INFECTIOUS DISEASE JOURNAL, 35 (8), pp. 856-861. | Read more

Hearn P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Day NPJ, Turner P. 2016. Lack of Utility of Nasopharyngeal Swabs for Diagnosis of Burkholderia pseudomallei Pneumonia in Paediatric Patients. J Trop Pediatr, 62 (4), pp. 328-330. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diagnosis of Burkholderia pseudomallei pneumonia in children is challenging. We investigated the utility of nasopharyngeal swabs taken from 194 paediatric patients on admission with radiologically proven pneumonia. Melioidosis was proven in 0.5% of samples tested and only in a third of those known to be bacteraemic with B. pseudomallei. It appears unlikely that culture of nasopharyngeal secretions is helpful to confirm B. pseudomallei pneumonia in paediatric patients.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2016. Corrigendum: Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 23307. | Read more

Turner P, Ngeth P, Turner C, Sao S, Day NPJ, Baker C, Steer AC, Smeesters PR. 2015. Molecular Epidemiology of Group A Streptococcus Infections in Cambodian Children, 2007-2012. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 34 (12), pp. 1414-1415. | Read more

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Richards AL, Day NPJ, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2015. Diagnostic Accuracy Assessment of Immunochromatographic Tests for the Rapid Detection of Antibodies Against Orientia tsutsugamushi Using Paired Acute and Convalescent Specimens. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (6), pp. 1168-1171. | Show Abstract | Read more

We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of two immunochromatographic tests (ICTs), the Access Bio CareStart Scrub Typhus test (Somerset, NJ) (IgM), and the SD BIOLINE Tsutsugamushi test (Kyonggi-do, Republic of Korea) (IgG, IgM, or IgA) compared with indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and real-time PCR results as reference tests using 86 paired acute and convalescent specimens from febrile patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the CareStart test were 23.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.8-38.6) and 81.4% (95% CI: 66.6-91.6), respectively, for acute specimens and 32.6% (95% CI: 19.1-48.5) and 79.1% (95% CI: 64.0-90.0), respectively, for convalescent specimens. For the SD BIOLINE test, sensitivity and specificity were 20.9% (95% CI: 10.0-36.0) and 74.4% (95% CI: 58.8-86.5), respectively, for acute specimens and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2) and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2), respectively, for convalescent specimens. The poor sensitivity obtained for both ICTs during this study when performed on acute specimens highlights the difficulties in prompt diagnosis of scrub typhus.

Blacksell SD, Kantipong P, Watthanaworawit W, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintawon S, Laongnuanutit A, Nosten FH, Day NPJ, Paris DH, Richards AL. 2015. Underrecognized arthropod-borne and zoonotic pathogens in northern and northwestern Thailand: serological evidence and opportunities for awareness. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 15 (5), pp. 285-290. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although scrub typhus and murine typhus are well-described tropical rickettsial illnesses, especially in Southeast Asia, only limited evidence is available for rickettsia-like pathogens contributing to the burden of undifferentiated febrile illness. Using commercially available kits, this study measured immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody seroprevalence for Coxiella burnetii, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Bartonella henselae, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) in 375 patients enrolled in undifferentiated febrile illness studies at Chiangrai (northern Thailand) and Mae Sot (Thai-Myanmar border). Ehrlichia and SFGR were the most common causes of IgG seropositivity. A distinct relationship between age and seropositivity was found in Chiangrai with acquisition of IgG titers against Ehrlichia, Bartonella, Anaplasma, and SFGR in young adulthood, suggesting cumulative exposure to these pathogens. At Mae Sot, high early IgG titers against Ehrlichia and SFGR were common, whereas Anaplasma and Bartonella IgG titers increased at 50-60 years. Q fever associated with low IgG positivity at both study sites, with significantly higher prevalence at 30 years of age in Chiangrai. These data suggest that other rickettsial illnesses could contribute to the burden of febrile illness in Thailand and possibly adjacent regions. Improved diagnostics and better understanding of antibody longevity and cross-reactivity will improve identification and management of these easily treatable infectious diseases.

Herbert J, Thomas S, Brookes C, Turner C, Turner P, Nosten F, Le Doare K, Hudson M, Heath PT, Gorringe A, Taylor S. 2015. Antibody-mediated complement C3b/iC3b binding to group B Streptococcus in paired mother and baby serum samples in a refugee population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 22 (3), pp. 319-326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. In this study, we determined antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b onto the bacterial cell surface of GBS serotypes Ia, Ib, II, III, and V. This was determined for 520 mother and umbilical cord serum sample pairs obtained at the time of birth from a population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b was detected to at least one serotype in 91% of mothers, despite a known carriage rate in this population of only 12%. Antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition corresponded to known carriage rates, with the highest levels of complement deposition observed onto the most prevalent serotype (serotype II) followed by serotypes Ia, III, V, and Ib. Finally, neonates born to mothers carrying serotype II GBS at the time of birth showed higher antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against serotype II GBS than neonates born to mothers with no serotype II carriage. Assessment of antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against GBS may provide insights into the seroepidemiology of anti-GBS antibodies in mothers and infants in different populations.

Turner P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Ly S, Miliya T, Goldblatt D, Day NPJ. 2015. Pneumococcal Infection among Children before Introduction of 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Cambodia. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (11), pp. 2080-2083. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination of children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was initiated in Cambodia in 2015. To determine baseline data, we collected samples from children in 2013 and 2014. PCV13 serotypes accounted for 62.7% of colonizing organisms in outpatients and 88.4% of invasive pneumococci overall; multidrug resistance was common. Thus, effectiveness of vaccination should be high.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2015. Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11344. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries. Considerable global variation in the pneumococcal carriage prevalence has been observed and the ecological factors contributing to it are not yet fully understood. We use data from a cohort of infants in Asia to study the effects of climatic conditions on both acquisition and clearance rates of the bacterium, finding significantly higher transmissibility during the cooler and drier months. Conversely, the length of a colonization period is unaffected by the season. Independent carriage data from studies conducted on the African and North American continents suggest similar effects of the climate on the prevalence of this bacterium, which further validates the obtained results. Further studies could be important to replicate the findings and explain the mechanistic role of cooler and dry air in the physiological response to nasopharyngeal acquisition of the pneumococcus.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Sirén J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD, Corander J. 2014. Two-phase importance sampling for inference about transmission trees Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 281 (1794), pp. 20141324. | Show Abstract | Read more

There has been growing interest in the statistics community to develop methods for inferring transmission pathways of infectious pathogens from molecular sequence data. For many datasets, the computational challenge lies in the huge dimension of the missing data. Here, we introduce an importance sampling scheme in which the transmission trees and phylogenies of pathogens are both sampled from reasonable importance distributions, alleviating the inference. Using this approach, arbitrary models of transmission could be considered, contrary to many earlier proposed methods. We illustrate the scheme by analysing transmissions of Streptococcus pneumoniae from household to household within a refugee camp, using data in which only a fraction of hosts is observed, but which is still rich enough to unravel the within-household transmission dynamics and pairs of households between whom transmission is plausible. We observe that while probability of direct transmission is low even for the most prominent cases of transmission, still those pairs of households are geographically much closer to each other than expected under random proximity.

Chewapreecha C, Marttinen P, Croucher NJ, Salter SJ, Harris SR, Mather AE, Hanage WP, Goldblatt D, Nosten FH, Turner C et al. 2014. Comprehensive identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with beta-lactam resistance within pneumococcal mosaic genes. PLoS Genet, 10 (8), pp. e1004547. | Show Abstract | Read more

Traditional genetic association studies are very difficult in bacteria, as the generally limited recombination leads to large linked haplotype blocks, confounding the identification of causative variants. Beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae arises readily as the bacteria can quickly incorporate DNA fragments encompassing variants that make the transformed strains resistant. However, the causative mutations themselves are embedded within larger recombined blocks, and previous studies have only analysed a limited number of isolates, leading to the description of "mosaic genes" as being responsible for resistance. By comparing a large number of genomes of beta-lactam susceptible and non-susceptible strains, the high frequency of recombination should break up these haplotype blocks and allow the use of genetic association approaches to identify individual causative variants. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels that could confer beta-lactam non-susceptibility using 3,085 Thai and 616 USA pneumococcal isolates as independent datasets for the variant discovery. The large sample sizes allowed us to narrow the source of beta-lactam non-susceptibility from long recombinant fragments down to much smaller loci comprised of discrete or linked SNPs. While some loci appear to be universal resistance determinants, contributing equally to non-susceptibility for at least two classes of beta-lactam antibiotics, some play a larger role in resistance to particular antibiotics. All of the identified loci have a highly non-uniform distribution in the populations. They are enriched not only in vaccine-targeted, but also non-vaccine-targeted lineages, which may raise clinical concerns. Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms underlying resistance will be essential for future use of genome sequencing to predict antibiotic sensitivity in clinical microbiology.

Croucher NJ, Chewapreecha C, Hanage WP, Harris SR, McGee L, van der Linden M, Song J-H, Ko KS, de Lencastre H, Turner C et al. 2014. Evidence for soft selective sweeps in the evolution of pneumococcal multidrug resistance and vaccine escape. Genome Biol Evol, 6 (7), pp. 1589-1602. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Taiwan(19F)-14, or PMEN14, clone was first observed with a 19F serotype, which is targeted by the heptavalent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine (PCV7). However, "vaccine escape" PMEN14 isolates with a 19A serotype became an increasingly important cause of disease post-PCV7. Whole genome sequencing was used to characterize the recent evolution of 173 pneumococci of, or related to, PMEN14. This suggested that PMEN14 is a single lineage that originated in the late 1980s in parallel with the acquisition of multiple resistances by close relatives. One of the four detected serotype switches to 19A generated representatives of the sequence type (ST) 320 isolates that have been highly successful post-PCV7. A second produced an ST236 19A genotype with reduced resistance to β-lactams owing to alteration of pbp1a and pbp2x sequences through the same recombination that caused the change in serotype. A third, which generated a mosaic capsule biosynthesis locus, resulted in serotype 19A ST271 isolates. The rapid diversification through homologous recombination seen in the global collection was similarly observed in the absence of vaccination in a set of isolates from the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, a collection that also allowed variation to be observed within carriage through longitudinal sampling. This suggests that some pneumococcal genotypes generate a pool of standing variation that is sufficiently extensive to result in "soft" selective sweeps: The emergence of multiple mutants in parallel upon a change in selection pressure, such as vaccine introduction. The subsequent competition between these mutants makes this phenomenon difficult to detect without deep sampling of individual lineages.

Chewapreecha C, Harris SR, Croucher NJ, Turner C, Marttinen P, Cheng L, Pessia A, Aanensen DM, Mather AE, Page AJ et al. 2014. Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Nat Genet, 46 (3), pp. 305-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evasion of clinical interventions by Streptococcus pneumoniae occurs through selection of non-susceptible genomic variants. We report whole-genome sequencing of 3,085 pneumococcal carriage isolates from a 2.4-km(2) refugee camp. This sequencing provides unprecedented resolution of the process of recombination and its impact on population evolution. Genomic recombination hotspots show remarkable consistency between lineages, indicating common selective pressures acting at certain loci, particularly those associated with antibiotic resistance. Temporal changes in antibiotic consumption are reflected in changes in recombination trends, demonstrating rapid spread of resistance when selective pressure is high. The highest frequencies of receipt and donation of recombined DNA fragments were observed in non-encapsulated lineages, implying that this largely overlooked pneumococcal group, which is beyond the reach of current vaccines, may have a major role in genetic exchange and the adaptation of the species as a whole. These findings advance understanding of pneumococcal population dynamics and provide information for the design of future intervention strategies.

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Seale AC, Blencowe H, Manu AA, Nair H, Bahl R, Qazi SA, Zaidi AK, Berkley JA, Cousens SN, Lawn JE et al. 2014. Estimates of possible severe bacterial infection in neonates in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America for 2012: A systematic review and meta-analysis The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14 (8), pp. 731-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Bacterial infections are a leading cause of the 2·9 million annual neonatal deaths. Treatment is usually based on clinical diagnosis of possible severe bacterial infection (pSBI). To guide programme planning, we have undertaken the first estimates of neonatal pSBI, by sex and by region, for sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America. Methods: We included data for pSBI incidence in neonates of 32 weeks' gestation or more (or birthweight ≥1500 g) with livebirth denominator data, undertaking a systematic review and forming an investigator group to obtain unpublished data. We calculated pooled risk estimates for neonatal pSBI and case fatality risk, by sex and by region. We then applied these risk estimates to estimates of livebirths in sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and Latin America to estimate cases and associated deaths in 2012. Findings: We included data from 22 studies, for 259 944 neonates and 20 196 pSBI cases, with most of the data (18 of the 22 studies) coming from the investigator group. The pooled estimate of pSBI incidence risk was 7·6% (95% CI 6·1-9·2%) and the case-fatality risk associated with pSBI was 9·8% (7·4-12·2). We estimated that in 2012 there were 6·9 million cases (uncertainty range 5·5 million-8·3 million) of pSBI in neonates needing treatment: 3·5 million (2·8 million-4·2 million) in south Asia, 2·6 million (2·1 million-3·1 million) in sub-Saharan Africa, and 0·8 million (0·7 million-1·0 million) in Latin America. The risk of pSBI was greater in boys (risk ratio 1·12, 95% CI 1·06-1·18) than girls. We estimated that there were 0·68 million (0·46 million-0·92 million) neonatal deaths associated with pSBI in 2012. Interpretation: The need-to-treat population for pSBI in these three regions is high, with ten cases of pSBI diagnosed for each associated neonatal death. Deaths and disability can be reduced through improved prevention, detection, and case management. Funding: The Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through grants to Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) and Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme. © 2014 Seale et al.

Turner C, Turner P, Hoogenboom G, Aye Mya Thein N, McGready R, Phakaudom K, De Zoysa A, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2013. A three year descriptive study of early onset neonatal sepsis in a refugee population on the Thailand Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Each year an estimated four million neonates die, the majority in the first week of life. One of the major causes of death is sepsis. Proving the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis is difficult, particularly in resource poor settings where the majority of the deaths occur. METHODS: We conducted a three year observational study of clinically diagnosed early onset (<7 days of age) neonatal sepsis (EONS) in infants born to mothers following antenatal care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela camp for displaced persons on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Episodes of EONS were identified using a clinical case definition. Conventional and molecular microbiological techniques were employed in order to determine underlying aetiology. RESULTS: From April 2009 until April 2012, 187 infants had clinical signs of EONS, giving an incidence rate of 44.8 per 1000 live births (95% CI 38.7-51.5). One blood culture was positive for Escherichia coli, E. coli was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid specimen in this infant, and in an additional two infants, by PCR. Therefore, the incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was 0.7 per 1000 live births (95% CI 0.1-2.1). No infants enrolled in study died as a direct result of EONS. CONCLUSION: A low incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was seen in this study, despite a high incidence of clinically diagnosed EONS. The use of molecular diagnostics and nonspecific markers of infection need to be studied in resource poor settings to improve the diagnosis of EONS and rationalise antibiotic use.

Turner P, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara V, Cicelia N, Deglise C, Phares C, Ortega L, Nosten F. 2013. Respiratory virus surveillance in hospitalised pneumonia patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Viruses contribute significantly to pneumonia burden, although data for low-income and tropical countries are scarce. The aim of this laboratory-enhanced, hospital-based surveillance was to characterise the epidemiology of respiratory virus infections among refugees living on the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: Maela camp provides shelter for ~45,000 refugees. Inside the camp, a humanitarian organisation provides free hospital care in a 158-bed inpatient department (IPD). Between 1st April 2009 and 30th September 2011, all patients admitted to the IPD with a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia were invited to participate. Clinical symptoms and signs were recorded and a nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) collected. NPAs were tested for adenoviruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), influenza A & B, and RSV by PCR. RESULTS: Seven hundred eight patient episodes (698 patients) diagnosed as pneumonia during the enhanced surveillance period were included in this analysis. The median patient age was 1 year (range: < 1-70), and 90.4% were aged < 5 years. At least one virus was detected in 53.7% (380/708) of episodes. Virus detection was more common in children aged < 5 years old (<1 year: OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2-3.4, p = 0.01; 1-4 years: OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.3, p = 0.2). RSV was detected in 176/708 (24.9%); an adenovirus in 133/708 (18.8%); an influenza virus in 68/708 (9.6%); and hMPV in 33/708 (4.7%). Twenty-eight episodes of multiple viral infections were identified, most commonly adenovirus plus another virus. RSV was more likely to be detected in children <5 years (OR 12.3, 95% CI 3.0-50.8, p = 0.001) and influenza viruses in patients ≥5 years (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.4, p = 0.002). IPD treatment was documented in 702/708 cases; all but one patient received antimicrobials, most commonly a beta-lactam (amoxicillin/ampicillin +/-gentamicin in 664/701, 94.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Viral nucleic acid was identified in the nasopharynx in half the patients admitted with clinically diagnosed pneumonia. Development of immunisations targeting common respiratory viruses is likely to reduce the incidence of pneumonia in children living refugee camps and similar settings.

Turner C, Carrara V, Thien NAM, Paw NMK, Rijken M, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Changes in the body weight of term infants, born in the tropics, during the first seven days of life. BMC Pediatr, 13 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Identifying unwell neonates, particularly in the first week of life, is often subjective. If normal values are known, calculating the weight lost or gained from birth weight can be a useful adjunct in the evaluation of the health of a neonate. METHODS: Serial body weights of well, term, breast fed infants who were attending for routine follow up, were recorded at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela Camp for displaced persons on the Thailand Myanmar border. Newborn examination was routine. Weight loss, expressed as percent weight lost from birth weight, and weight gain, expressed as a velocity (g/kg/day), was calculated for the first seven days of life. The results from normal birth weight infants, low birth weight infants (<2.5 kg) and small for gestational age infants (SGA) were examined. RESULTS: In the first week of life there were no significant differences in weight gained or lost across the three study groups. The maximum weight lost was 4.4% (95% CI 4.1 - 4.6%), which occurred on day three. Weight gain ranged from 13 g/kg/day [95% CI 10 - 16] on day four to 18 g/kg/day [95% CI 15 - 20] on days six and seven. CONCLUSIONS: Use of these normal values for weight gain and loss, allows infants falling outside of the expected range (95% CI) to be easily identified and subsequently highlighted as needing further medical review.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Richards AL, Bourzac KM, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2013. A prospective evaluation of real-time PCR assays for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections during the acute phase of undifferentiated febrile illness. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 89 (2), pp. 308-310. | Show Abstract | Read more

One hundred and eighty febrile patients were analyzed in a prospective evaluation of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections. By paired serology, 3.9% (7 of 180) and 6.1% (11 of 180) of patients were confirmed to have acute scrub or murine typhus, respectively. The PCR assays for the detection of O. tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. had high specificity (99.4% [95% confidence interval (CI): 96.8-100] and 100% [95% CI: 97.8-100], respectively). The PCR results were also compared with immunoglobulin M (IgM) immunofluorescence assay (IFA) on acute sera. For O. tsutsugamushi, PCR sensitivity was twice that of acute specimen IgM IFA (28.6% versus 14.3%; McNemar's P = 0.3). For Rickettsia spp., PCR was four times as sensitive as acute specimen IgM IFA (36.4% versus 9.1%; P = 0.08), although this was not statistically significant. Whole blood and buffy coat, but not serum, were acceptable specimens for these PCRs. Further evaluation of these assays in a larger prospective study is warranted.

Turner P, Turner C, Green N, Ashton L, Lwe E, Jankhot A, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Serum antibody responses to pneumococcal colonisation in the first two years of life: results from a SE Asian longitudinal cohort study. Clin Microbiol Infect, 19 (12), pp. E551-E558. | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of antibody responses to pneumococcal colonisation in early childhood may aid our understanding of protection and inform vaccine antigen selection. Serum samples were collected from mother-infant pairs during a longitudinal pneumococcal colonisation study in Burmese refugees. Maternal and cord sera were collected at birth and infants were bled monthly (1-24 months of age). Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken monthly to detect colonisation. Serum IgG titres to 27 pneumococcal protein antigens were measured in 2,624 sera and IgG to dominant serotypes (6B,14,19F,19A,23F) were quantified in 864 infant sera. Antibodies to all protein antigens were detectable in maternal sera. Titres to four proteins (LytB,PcpA,PhtD,PhtE) were significantly higher in mothers colonised by pneumococci at delivery. Maternally-derived antibodies to PiuA and Spr0096 were associated with delayed pneumococcal acquisition in infants in univariate, but not multivariate models. Controlling for infant age and previous homologous serotype exposure, nasopharyngeal acquisition of serotypes 19A, 23F, 14, or 19F were associated significantly with a ≥2-fold antibody response to the homologous capsule (OR 12.84, 7.52, 6.52, 5.33; p<0.05). Acquisition of pneumococcal serotypes in the nasopharynx of infants was not significantly associated with a ≥2-fold rise in antibodies to any of the protein antigens studied. In conclusion, nasopharyngeal colonisation in young children resulted in demonstrable serum IgG responses to pneumococcal capsules and surface/virulence proteins. However, the relationship between serum IgG and the prevention of, or response to, pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonisation remains complex. Mechanisms other than serum IgG are likely to have a role but are currently poorly understood. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Turner C, Mya Thein NA, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Rectal pH in Well and Unwell Infants. J Trop Pediatr, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Malleret B, Xu F, Mohandas N, Suwanarusk R, Chu C, Leite JA, Low K, Turner C, Sriprawat K, Zhang R et al. 2013. Significant biochemical, biophysical and metabolic diversity in circulating human cord blood reticulocytes. PLoS One, 8 (10), pp. e76062. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The transition from enucleated reticulocytes to mature normocytes is marked by substantial remodeling of the erythrocytic cytoplasm and membrane. Despite conspicuous changes, most studies describe the maturing reticulocyte as a homogenous erythropoietic cell type. While reticulocyte staging based on fluorescent RNA stains such as thiazole orange have been useful in a clinical setting; these 'sub-vital' stains may confound delicate studies on reticulocyte biology and may preclude their use in heamoparasite invasion studies. DESIGN AND METHODS: Here we use highly purified populations of reticulocytes isolated from cord blood, sorted by flow cytometry into four sequential subpopulations based on transferrin receptor (CD71) expression: CD71high, CD71medium, CD71low and CD71negative. Each of these subgroups was phenotyped in terms of their, morphology, membrane antigens, biomechanical properties and metabolomic profile. RESULTS: Superficially CD71high and CD71medium reticulocytes share a similar gross morphology (large and multilobular) when compared to the smaller, smooth and increasingly concave reticulocytes as seen in the in the CD71low and CD71negativesamples. However, between each of the four sample sets we observe significant decreases in shear modulus, cytoadhesive capacity, erythroid receptor expression (CD44, CD55, CD147, CD235R, and CD242) and metabolite concentrations. Interestingly increasing amounts of boric acid was found in the mature reticulocytes. CONCLUSIONS: Reticulocyte maturation is a dynamic and continuous process, confounding efforts to rigidly classify them. Certainly this study does not offer an alternative classification strategy; instead we used a nondestructive sampling method to examine key phenotypic changes of in reticulocytes. Our study emphasizes a need to focus greater attention on reticulocyte biology.

Turner C, Carrara V, Aye Mya Thein N, Chit Mo Mo Win N, Turner P, Bancone G, White NJ, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Neonatal intensive care in a Karen refugee camp: a 4 year descriptive study. PLoS One, 8 (8), pp. e72721. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A third of all deaths in children aged <5 years occur in the neonatal period. Neonatal intensive care is often considered too complex and expensive to be implemented in resource poor settings. Consequently the reductions that have been made in infant mortality in the poorest countries have not been made in the neonatal period. This manuscript describes the activities surrounding the introduction of special care baby unit (SCBU) in a refugee setting and the resulting population impact. METHODS: A SCBU was developed in Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border. This unit comprised of a dedicated area, basic equipment, drugs and staff training. Training was built around neonatal guidelines, comprising six clinical steps: recognition, resuscitation, examination, supportive medical care, specialised medical care, and counselling of parents with sick newborns. RESULTS: From January 2008 until December 2011, 952 infants were admitted to SCBU. The main admission diagnoses were early onset neonatal sepsis, jaundice and prematurity. Early prematurity (<34 weeks) carried the highest risk of mortality (OR 9.5, 95% CI 5.4-16.5, p<0.001). There was a significant decrease in mortality from 19.3% (2008) to 4.8% (2011) among the infants admitted for prematurity (p=0.03). The neonatal mortality in Maela camp as a whole declined by 51% from 21.8 to 10.7 deaths per 1000 live births over the corresponding period (p=0.04). Staff expressed more confidence in their ability to take care of neonates and there was a more positive attitude towards premature infants. CONCLUSION: Neonatal mortality can be reduced in a resource poor setting by introduction of a simple low cost unit specialising in care of sick neonates and run by local health workers following adequate training. Training in recognition and provision of simple interventions at a high standard can increase staff confidence and reduce fatalistic attitudes towards premature neonates.

Turner C, Turner P, Carrara V, Burgoine K, Tha Ler Htoo S, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2013. High rates of pneumonia in children under two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e54026. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are an estimated 150 million episodes of childhood pneumonia per year, with 11-20 million hospital admissions and 1.575 million deaths. Refugee children are particularly vulnerable, with poorly defined pneumonia epidemiology. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of 955 refugee infants, born over a one-year period, until two years of age. Clinical and radiographic pneumonia were diagnosed according to WHO criteria. Detailed characteristics were collected to determine risk factors for clinical, radiological and multiple episodes of pneumonia. Investigations were taken during a pneumonia episode to help determine or to infer an aetiological diagnosis. FINDINGS: The incidence of clinical pneumonia was 0.73 (95% CI 0.70-0.75) episodes per child year (/CY) and of radiological primary endpoint pneumonia (PEP) was 0.22/CY (95% CI 0.20-0.24). The incidence of pneumonia without severe signs was 0.50/CY (95% CI 0.48-0.53), severe pneumonia 0.15/CY (95% CI 0.13-0.17) and very severe pneumonia 0.06/CY (0.05-0.07). Virus was detected, from a nasopharyngeal aspirate, in 61.3% of episodes. A reduced volume of living space per person (IRR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99-1.0, p = 0.003) and young maternal age (IRR 1.59, 95% CI 1.12-2.27, p = 0.01) were risk factors for developing pneumonia. The risk of a child having >1 episode of pneumonia was increased by having a shorter distance to the next house (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.74-1.00, p = 0.04). Infants were at risk of having an episode of PEP if there was a shorter distance from stove to bed (IRR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.99, p = 0.03). Raised CRP and neutrophil values were associated with PEP. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of pneumonia in young children in this SE Asian refugee population. Viral infections were important, however CXR and non-specific marker findings suggested that bacteria may be involved in up to a third of cases.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Phakaudom K, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Field evaluation of culture plus latex sweep serotyping for detection of multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation in infants and young children. PLoS One, 8 (7), pp. e67933. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture by World Health Organisation (WHO) methodology underestimates multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation compared to a simple culture and latex sweep method. The impacts of this on descriptions of pneumococcal serotype distributions and colonisation dynamics in infancy are not clear. METHODS: 8,736 NPS collected from infants enrolled into a longitudinal study were processed to evaluate the field utility of the latex sweep method. 1,107 had previously been cultured by WHO methodology. Additionally, colonisation results were compared in 100 matched pairs of infants, where swabs from an individual were cultured either by WHO or latex sweep method. RESULTS: In 1,107 swabs cultured by both methods, the latex sweep method was three times more likely to detect colonisation with multiple pneumococcal serotypes than the WHO method (p<0.001). At least one common serotype was identified in 91.2% of swabs from which typeable pneumococci were detected by both methods. Agreement improved with increasing colonisation density (p = 0.03). Estimates of age at first pneumococcal acquisition and colonisation duration were not affected by culture/serotyping method. However, a greater number of serotype carriage episodes were detected in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.03). The overall rate of non-vaccine type pneumococcal acquisition was also greater in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Latex sweep serotyping was feasible to perform on a large specimen collection. Multiple serotype colonisation detection was significantly improved compared with WHO methodology. However, use of the latex sweep method is unlikely to significantly alter colonisation study serotype distribution or colonisation dynamics results.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Htoo STL, Watthanaworawit W, Day N, White N, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. The epidemiology of pneumonia in a birth cohort of children living on the Thai-Myanmar border INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E13-E13. | Read more

Turner C, Turner P, Po L, Maner N, De Zoysa A, Afshar B, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2012. Group B streptococcal carriage, serotype distribution and antibiotic susceptibilities in pregnant women at the time of delivery in a refugee population on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis in the developed world. Little is known about its epidemiology in the developing world, where the majority of deaths from neonatal infections occur. Maternal carriage of GBS is a prerequisite for the development of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis but there is a paucity of carriage data published from the developing world, in particular South East Asia. METHODS: We undertook a cross sectional study over a 13 month period in a remote South East Asian setting on the Thai-Myanmar border. During labour, 549 mothers had a combined vaginal rectal swab taken for GBS culture. All swabs underwent both conventional culture as well as PCR for GBS detection. Cultured GBS isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination, those that were negative or had a weak positive reaction and those that were PCR positive but culture negative were additionally tested using multiplex PCR based on the detection of GBS capsular polysaccharide genes. RESULTS: The GBS carriage rate was 12.0% (95% CI: 9.4-15.0), with 8.6% positive by both culture and PCR and an additional 3.5% positive by PCR alone. Serotypes, Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII were identified, with II the predominant serotype. All GBS isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ceftriaxone and vancomycin and 43/47 (91.5%) were susceptible to erythromycin and clindamycin. CONCLUSIONS: GBS carriage is not uncommon in pregnant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border with a large range of serotypes represented.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Helen N, Lee SJ, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. A longitudinal study of Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage in a cohort of infants and their mothers on the Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS One, 7 (5), pp. e38271. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of childhood death. Almost a third of the world's children live in Southeast Asia, but there are few data from the region on pneumococcal colonization or disease. Our aim was to document the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage in a rural SE Asian birth cohort. METHODS: We studied 234 Karen mother-infant pairs in Northwestern Thailand. Infants were followed from birth and nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from mother and infant at monthly intervals until 24 months old. RESULTS: 8,386 swabs were cultured and 4,396 pneumococci characterized. Infants became colonized early (median 45.5 days; 95% confidence interval [CI] 44.5-46.0) and by 24 months had a median of seven (range 0-15) carriage episodes. Maternal smoking and young children in the house were associated with earlier colonization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.5 (95% CI 1.1-2.1) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.0-1.9)). For the four commonest serotypes and non-typeable pneumococci, previous exposure to homologous or heterologous serotypes resulted in an extended interval to reacquisition of the same serotype. Previous colonization by serotypes 14 and 19F was also associated with reduced carriage duration if subsequently reacquired (HR [first reacquisition] 4.1 (95% CI 1.4-12.6) and 2.6 (1.5-4.7)). Mothers acquired pneumococci less frequently, and carried them for shorter periods, than infants (acquisition rate 0.5 vs. 1.1 /100 person-days, p<0.001; median duration 31.0 vs. 60.5 days, p = 0.001). 55.8% of pneumococci from infants were vaccine serotypes (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13), compared with 27.5% from mothers (p<0.001). Non-typeable pneumococcal carriage was common, being carried at least once by 55.1% of infants and 32.0% of mothers. CONCLUSIONS: Pneumococcal carriage frequency and duration are influenced by previous exposure to both homologous and heterologous serotypes. These data will inform vaccination strategies in this population.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Eh Lwe N, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. A high burden of respiratory syncytial virus associated pneumonia in children less than two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e50100. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity approximately 1.6 million deaths and 150 million episodes occur annually in children <5 years. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be responsible for up to 25% of cases and 12% of deaths making it an important potential vaccine target, although data from South East Asia is scarce. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of Burmese refugee children, born over a one year period, for two years. Pneumonia episodes were diagnosed using WHO criteria. A chest radiograph, nasopharyngeal aspirate and non-specific markers of infection were taken during each episode. RESULTS: The incidence of RSV-associated pneumonia was 0.24 (95% CI 0.22-0.26) episodes per child year. All children with pneumonia received antibiotic treatment, following WHO guidelines. The highest incidence was in the 2-12 month age group. The commonest diagnosis in a child with RSV-associated pneumonia was non-severe pneumonia (239/362:66.0%), however the incidence of RSV-associated severe or very severe pneumonia was 0.08 (95% CI 0.01-0.10) episodes per child year. Birth in the wet season increased the risk of severe disease in children who had their first episode of RSV-associated pneumonia aged 2-11 months (OR 28.7, 95% CI 6.6-125.0, p<0.001). RSV episodes were highly seasonal being responsible for 80.0% of all the pneumonia episodes occurring each October and November over the study period. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of RSV associated pneumonia in this refugee population. Interventions to prevent RSV infection have the potential to reduce the incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia and hence unnecessary antibiotic usage in this population.

McGready R, Boel M, Rijken MJ, Ashley EA, Cho T, Moo O, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Hkirijareon L, Carrara VI et al. 2012. Effect of early detection and treatment on malaria related maternal mortality on the north-western border of Thailand 1986-2010. PLoS One, 7 (7), pp. e40244. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Maternal mortality is high in developing countries, but there are few data in high-risk groups such as migrants and refugees in malaria-endemic areas. Trends in maternal mortality were followed over 25 years in antenatal clinics prospectively established in an area with low seasonal transmission on the north-western border of Thailand. METHODS AND FINDINGS: All medical records from women who attended the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit antenatal clinics from 12(th) May 1986 to 31(st) December 2010 were reviewed, and maternal death records were analyzed for causality. There were 71 pregnancy-related deaths recorded amongst 50,981 women who attended antenatal care at least once. Three were suicide and excluded from the analysis as incidental deaths. The estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) overall was 184 (95%CI 150-230) per 100,000 live births. In camps for displaced persons there has been a six-fold decline in the MMR from 499 (95%CI 200-780) in 1986-90 to 79 (40-170) in 2006-10, p<0.05. In migrants from adjacent Myanmar the decline in MMR was less significant: 588 (100-3260) to 252 (150-430) from 1996-2000 to 2006-2010. Mortality from P. falciparum malaria in pregnancy dropped sharply with the introduction of systematic screening and treatment and continued to decline with the reduction in the incidence of malaria in the communities. P. vivax was not a cause of maternal death in this population. Infection (non-puerperal sepsis and P. falciparum malaria) accounted for 39.7 (27/68) % of all deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Frequent antenatal clinic screening allows early detection and treatment of falciparum malaria and substantially reduces maternal mortality from P. falciparum malaria. No significant decline has been observed in deaths from sepsis or other causes in refugee and migrant women on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Turner P, Melchiorre S, Moschioni M, Barocchi MA, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Kaewcharernnet N, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. Assessment of Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 prevalence in carried and transmitted isolates from mother-infant pairs on the Thailand-Burma border. Clin Microbiol Infect, 18 (10), pp. 970-975. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 (PI-1)-encoded pilus enhances in vitro adhesion to the respiratory epithelium and may contribute to pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization and transmission. The pilus subunits are regarded as potential protein vaccine candidates. In this study, we sought to determine PI-1 prevalence in carried pneumococcal isolates and explore its relationship with transmissibility or carriage duration. We studied 896 pneumococcal isolates collected during a longitudinal carriage study that included monthly nasopharyngeal swabbing of 234 infants and their mothers between the ages of 1 and 24 months. These were cultured according to the WHO pneumococcal carriage detection protocol. PI-1 PCR and genotyping by multilocus sequence typing were performed on isolates chosen according to specific carriage and transmission definitions. Overall, 35.2% of the isolates were PI-1-positive, but PI-1 presence was restricted to ten of the 34 serotypes studied and was most frequently associated with serotypes 19F and 23F; 47.5% of transmitted and 43.3% of non-transmitted isolates were PI-1-positive (OR 1.2; 95% CI 0.8-1.7; p 0.4). The duration of first-ever infant pneumococcal carriage was significantly longer with PI-1-positive organisms, but this difference was not significant at the individual serotype level. In conclusion, PI-1 is commonly found in pneumococcal carriage isolates, but does not appear to be associated with pneumococcal transmissibility or carriage duration.

Turner P, Turner C, Kaewcharernnet N, Mon NY, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. A prospective study of urinary pneumococcal antigen detection in healthy Karen mothers with high rates of pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage. BMC Infect Dis, 11 (1), pp. 108. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae C-polysaccharide in urine is a useful rapid diagnostic test for pneumococcal infections in adults. In young children, high rates of false positive results have been documented due to detection of concurrent nasopharyngeal pneumococcal carriage. The relationship between pneumococcal carriage and urinary antigen detection in adults from developing countries with high pneumococcal carriage prevalence has not been well established. METHODS: We nested an evaluation of the BinaxNOW S. pneumoniae test within a longitudinal mother-infant pneumococcal carriage study in Karen refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Paired urine and nasopharyngeal swab specimens were collected from 98 asymptomatic women at a routine study follow-up visit. The urine specimens were analyzed with the BinaxNOW test and the nasopharyngeal swabs were semi-quantitatively cultured to identify pneumococcal colonization. RESULTS: 24/98 (25%) women were colonized by S. pneumoniae but only three (3%) had a positive BinaxNOW urine test. The sensitivity of the BinaxNOW test for detection of pneumococcal colonization was 4.2% (95% CI: 0.1-21.1%) with a specificity of 97.3% (95% CI: 90.6-99.7%). Pneumococcal colonization was not associated with having a positive BinaxNOW test (odds ratio 1.6; 95% CI: 0.0-12.7; p=0.7). CONCLUSIONS: Significant numbers of false positive results are unlikely to be encountered when using the BinaxNOW test to diagnose pneumococcal infection in adults from countries with moderate to high rates of pneumococcal colonization.

Turner P, Po L, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. Detection of respiratory viruses by PCR assay of nasopharyngeal swabs stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol transport medium. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (6), pp. 2311-2313. | Show Abstract | Read more

We analyzed 129 paired nasopharyngeal aspirates (stored in viral transport medium [VTM]) and nasopharyngeal swabs (stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol [STGG] bacterial transport and storage medium) using PCRs to detect adenoviruses, influenza virus A or B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Overall, swabs stored in STGG medium without antimicrobials were found to be an acceptable alternative to aspirates stored in antimicrobial-containing VTM, with PCR agreement of 90.2% (kappa of 0.8).

Turner P, Hinds J, Turner C, Jankhot A, Gould K, Bentley SD, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2011. Improved detection of nasopharyngeal cocolonization by multiple pneumococcal serotypes by use of latex agglutination or molecular serotyping by microarray. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (5), pp. 1784-1789. | Show Abstract | Read more

Identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx is critical for an understanding of transmission, estimates of vaccine efficacy, and possible replacement disease. Conventional nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture and serotyping (the WHO protocol) is likely to underestimate multiple-serotype carriage. We compared the WHO protocol with methods aimed at improving cocolonization detection. One hundred twenty-five NPSs from an infant pneumococcal-carriage study, containing ≥ 1 serotype by WHO culture, were recultured in duplicate. A sweep of colonies from one plate culture was serotyped by latex agglutination. DNA extracted from the second plate was analyzed by S. pneumoniae molecular-serotyping microarray. Multiple serotypes were detected in 11.2% of the swabs by WHO culture, 43.2% by sweep serotyping, and 48.8% by microarray. Sweep and microarray were more likely to detect multiple serotypes than WHO culture (P < 0.0001). Cocolonization detection rates were similar between microarray and sweep, but the microarray identified the greatest number of serotypes. A common serogroup type was identified in 95.2% of swabs by all methods. WHO methodology significantly underestimates multiple-serotype carriage compared to these alternate methods. Sweep serotyping is cost-effective and field deployable but may fail to detect serotypes at low abundance, whereas microarray serotyping is more costly and technology dependent but may detect these additional minor carried serotypes.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner CL, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jarman RG, Blacksell SD, Nosten FH. 2011. A prospective evaluation of diagnostic methodologies for the acute diagnosis of dengue virus infection on the Thailand-Myanmar border Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 105 (1), pp. 32-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinically useful diagnostic tests of dengue virus infection are lacking. We prospectively evaluated the performance of real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT)-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests to confirm dengue virus infection in acute blood specimens from 162 patients presenting with undifferentiated febrile illness compatible with dengue infection. rRT-PCR was the most sensitive test (89%) and potentially could be used as a single test for confirmation of dengue infection. NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody were not sufficiently sensitive to be used as a single confirmatory test with sensitivities of 54% and 17% respectively. The specificities of rRT-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests were 96%, 100% and 88% respectively. Combining NS-1 and rRT-PCR or the combination of all three tests resulted in the highest sensitivity (93%) but specificities dropped to 96% and 83% respectively. We conclude that at least the combination of two tests, either agent detection (rRT-PCR) or antigen detection (NS-1) plus IgM antibody detection should be used for laboratory confirmation of dengue infection. © 2010 Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Lubell Y, Ashley EA, Turner C, Turner P, White NJ. 2011. Susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens to antibiotics in Africa and Asia in neonates--an alarmingly short review. Trop Med Int Health, 16 (2), pp. 145-151. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens in neonatal sepsis to commonly prescribed antibiotics in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia since 2002. METHODS: Literature review in PubMed and Embase. Susceptibility was estimated for pathogens individually and stratified by region. Isolates were also classified into Gram positive and Gram negative pathogens to estimate their pooled susceptibility. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Only nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The available data indicated poor susceptibility to almost all commonly used antibiotics in pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella spp. Only Streptococcus pneumoniae exhibited good susceptibility to all drugs other than cotrimoxazole. The extreme scarcity of data prevents drawing any firm conclusions beyond the urgent need for more studies to identify the best treatments for neonatal sepsis in the developing world.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner CL, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jarman RG, Blacksell SD, Nosten FH. 2011. A prospective evaluation of diagnostic methodologies for the acute diagnosis of dengue virus infection on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 105 (1), pp. 32-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinically useful diagnostic tests of dengue virus infection are lacking. We prospectively evaluated the performance of real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT)-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests to confirm dengue virus infection in acute blood specimens from 162 patients presenting with undifferentiated febrile illness compatible with dengue infection. rRT-PCR was the most sensitive test (89%) and potentially could be used as a single test for confirmation of dengue infection. NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody were not sufficiently sensitive to be used as a single confirmatory test with sensitivities of 54% and 17% respectively. The specificities of rRT-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests were 96%, 100% and 88% respectively. Combining NS-1 and rRT-PCR or the combination of all three tests resulted in the highest sensitivity (93%) but specificities dropped to 96% and 83% respectively. We conclude that at least the combination of two tests, either agent detection (rRT-PCR) or antigen detection (NS-1) plus IgM antibody detection should be used for laboratory confirmation of dengue infection.

Turner P, Turner CL, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara VI, Kapella BK, Painter J, Nosten FH. 2010. Influenza in refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border, May-October 2009. Emerg Infect Dis, 16 (9), pp. 1366-1372. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe the epidemiology of influenza virus infections in refugees in a camp in rural Southeast Asia during May-October 2009, the first 6 months after identification of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Thailand. Influenza A viruses were detected in 20% of patients who had influenza-like illness and in 23% of those who had clinical pneumonia. Seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was the predominant virus circulating during weeks 26-33 (June 25-August 29) and was subsequently replaced by the pandemic strain. A review of passive surveillance for acute respiratory infection did not show an increase in acute respiratory tract infection incidence associated with the arrival of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the camp.

Chewapreecha C, Harris SR, Croucher NJ, Turner C, Marttinen P, Cheng L, Pessia A, Aanensen DM, Mather AE, Page AJ et al. 2014. Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Nat Genet, 46 (3), pp. 305-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evasion of clinical interventions by Streptococcus pneumoniae occurs through selection of non-susceptible genomic variants. We report whole-genome sequencing of 3,085 pneumococcal carriage isolates from a 2.4-km(2) refugee camp. This sequencing provides unprecedented resolution of the process of recombination and its impact on population evolution. Genomic recombination hotspots show remarkable consistency between lineages, indicating common selective pressures acting at certain loci, particularly those associated with antibiotic resistance. Temporal changes in antibiotic consumption are reflected in changes in recombination trends, demonstrating rapid spread of resistance when selective pressure is high. The highest frequencies of receipt and donation of recombined DNA fragments were observed in non-encapsulated lineages, implying that this largely overlooked pneumococcal group, which is beyond the reach of current vaccines, may have a major role in genetic exchange and the adaptation of the species as a whole. These findings advance understanding of pneumococcal population dynamics and provide information for the design of future intervention strategies.

Turner C, Turner P, Hoogenboom G, Aye Mya Thein N, McGready R, Phakaudom K, De Zoysa A, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2013. A three year descriptive study of early onset neonatal sepsis in a refugee population on the Thailand Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Each year an estimated four million neonates die, the majority in the first week of life. One of the major causes of death is sepsis. Proving the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis is difficult, particularly in resource poor settings where the majority of the deaths occur. METHODS: We conducted a three year observational study of clinically diagnosed early onset (<7 days of age) neonatal sepsis (EONS) in infants born to mothers following antenatal care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela camp for displaced persons on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Episodes of EONS were identified using a clinical case definition. Conventional and molecular microbiological techniques were employed in order to determine underlying aetiology. RESULTS: From April 2009 until April 2012, 187 infants had clinical signs of EONS, giving an incidence rate of 44.8 per 1000 live births (95% CI 38.7-51.5). One blood culture was positive for Escherichia coli, E. coli was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid specimen in this infant, and in an additional two infants, by PCR. Therefore, the incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was 0.7 per 1000 live births (95% CI 0.1-2.1). No infants enrolled in study died as a direct result of EONS. CONCLUSION: A low incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was seen in this study, despite a high incidence of clinically diagnosed EONS. The use of molecular diagnostics and nonspecific markers of infection need to be studied in resource poor settings to improve the diagnosis of EONS and rationalise antibiotic use.

Turner C, Carrara V, Thien NAM, Paw NMK, Rijken M, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Changes in the body weight of term infants, born in the tropics, during the first seven days of life. BMC Pediatr, 13 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Identifying unwell neonates, particularly in the first week of life, is often subjective. If normal values are known, calculating the weight lost or gained from birth weight can be a useful adjunct in the evaluation of the health of a neonate. METHODS: Serial body weights of well, term, breast fed infants who were attending for routine follow up, were recorded at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela Camp for displaced persons on the Thailand Myanmar border. Newborn examination was routine. Weight loss, expressed as percent weight lost from birth weight, and weight gain, expressed as a velocity (g/kg/day), was calculated for the first seven days of life. The results from normal birth weight infants, low birth weight infants (<2.5 kg) and small for gestational age infants (SGA) were examined. RESULTS: In the first week of life there were no significant differences in weight gained or lost across the three study groups. The maximum weight lost was 4.4% (95% CI 4.1 - 4.6%), which occurred on day three. Weight gain ranged from 13 g/kg/day [95% CI 10 - 16] on day four to 18 g/kg/day [95% CI 15 - 20] on days six and seven. CONCLUSIONS: Use of these normal values for weight gain and loss, allows infants falling outside of the expected range (95% CI) to be easily identified and subsequently highlighted as needing further medical review.

Turner C, Mya Thein NA, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Rectal pH in Well and Unwell Infants. J Trop Pediatr, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Turner C, Carrara V, Aye Mya Thein N, Chit Mo Mo Win N, Turner P, Bancone G, White NJ, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Neonatal intensive care in a Karen refugee camp: a 4 year descriptive study. PLoS One, 8 (8), pp. e72721. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A third of all deaths in children aged <5 years occur in the neonatal period. Neonatal intensive care is often considered too complex and expensive to be implemented in resource poor settings. Consequently the reductions that have been made in infant mortality in the poorest countries have not been made in the neonatal period. This manuscript describes the activities surrounding the introduction of special care baby unit (SCBU) in a refugee setting and the resulting population impact. METHODS: A SCBU was developed in Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border. This unit comprised of a dedicated area, basic equipment, drugs and staff training. Training was built around neonatal guidelines, comprising six clinical steps: recognition, resuscitation, examination, supportive medical care, specialised medical care, and counselling of parents with sick newborns. RESULTS: From January 2008 until December 2011, 952 infants were admitted to SCBU. The main admission diagnoses were early onset neonatal sepsis, jaundice and prematurity. Early prematurity (<34 weeks) carried the highest risk of mortality (OR 9.5, 95% CI 5.4-16.5, p<0.001). There was a significant decrease in mortality from 19.3% (2008) to 4.8% (2011) among the infants admitted for prematurity (p=0.03). The neonatal mortality in Maela camp as a whole declined by 51% from 21.8 to 10.7 deaths per 1000 live births over the corresponding period (p=0.04). Staff expressed more confidence in their ability to take care of neonates and there was a more positive attitude towards premature infants. CONCLUSION: Neonatal mortality can be reduced in a resource poor setting by introduction of a simple low cost unit specialising in care of sick neonates and run by local health workers following adequate training. Training in recognition and provision of simple interventions at a high standard can increase staff confidence and reduce fatalistic attitudes towards premature neonates.

Turner C, Turner P, Carrara V, Burgoine K, Tha Ler Htoo S, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2013. High rates of pneumonia in children under two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e54026. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are an estimated 150 million episodes of childhood pneumonia per year, with 11-20 million hospital admissions and 1.575 million deaths. Refugee children are particularly vulnerable, with poorly defined pneumonia epidemiology. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of 955 refugee infants, born over a one-year period, until two years of age. Clinical and radiographic pneumonia were diagnosed according to WHO criteria. Detailed characteristics were collected to determine risk factors for clinical, radiological and multiple episodes of pneumonia. Investigations were taken during a pneumonia episode to help determine or to infer an aetiological diagnosis. FINDINGS: The incidence of clinical pneumonia was 0.73 (95% CI 0.70-0.75) episodes per child year (/CY) and of radiological primary endpoint pneumonia (PEP) was 0.22/CY (95% CI 0.20-0.24). The incidence of pneumonia without severe signs was 0.50/CY (95% CI 0.48-0.53), severe pneumonia 0.15/CY (95% CI 0.13-0.17) and very severe pneumonia 0.06/CY (0.05-0.07). Virus was detected, from a nasopharyngeal aspirate, in 61.3% of episodes. A reduced volume of living space per person (IRR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99-1.0, p = 0.003) and young maternal age (IRR 1.59, 95% CI 1.12-2.27, p = 0.01) were risk factors for developing pneumonia. The risk of a child having >1 episode of pneumonia was increased by having a shorter distance to the next house (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.74-1.00, p = 0.04). Infants were at risk of having an episode of PEP if there was a shorter distance from stove to bed (IRR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.99, p = 0.03). Raised CRP and neutrophil values were associated with PEP. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of pneumonia in young children in this SE Asian refugee population. Viral infections were important, however CXR and non-specific marker findings suggested that bacteria may be involved in up to a third of cases.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Htoo STL, Watthanaworawit W, Day N, White N, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. The epidemiology of pneumonia in a birth cohort of children living on the Thai-Myanmar border INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E13-E13. | Read more

Turner C, Turner P, Po L, Maner N, De Zoysa A, Afshar B, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2012. Group B streptococcal carriage, serotype distribution and antibiotic susceptibilities in pregnant women at the time of delivery in a refugee population on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis in the developed world. Little is known about its epidemiology in the developing world, where the majority of deaths from neonatal infections occur. Maternal carriage of GBS is a prerequisite for the development of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis but there is a paucity of carriage data published from the developing world, in particular South East Asia. METHODS: We undertook a cross sectional study over a 13 month period in a remote South East Asian setting on the Thai-Myanmar border. During labour, 549 mothers had a combined vaginal rectal swab taken for GBS culture. All swabs underwent both conventional culture as well as PCR for GBS detection. Cultured GBS isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination, those that were negative or had a weak positive reaction and those that were PCR positive but culture negative were additionally tested using multiplex PCR based on the detection of GBS capsular polysaccharide genes. RESULTS: The GBS carriage rate was 12.0% (95% CI: 9.4-15.0), with 8.6% positive by both culture and PCR and an additional 3.5% positive by PCR alone. Serotypes, Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII were identified, with II the predominant serotype. All GBS isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ceftriaxone and vancomycin and 43/47 (91.5%) were susceptible to erythromycin and clindamycin. CONCLUSIONS: GBS carriage is not uncommon in pregnant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border with a large range of serotypes represented.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Eh Lwe N, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. A high burden of respiratory syncytial virus associated pneumonia in children less than two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e50100. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity approximately 1.6 million deaths and 150 million episodes occur annually in children <5 years. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be responsible for up to 25% of cases and 12% of deaths making it an important potential vaccine target, although data from South East Asia is scarce. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of Burmese refugee children, born over a one year period, for two years. Pneumonia episodes were diagnosed using WHO criteria. A chest radiograph, nasopharyngeal aspirate and non-specific markers of infection were taken during each episode. RESULTS: The incidence of RSV-associated pneumonia was 0.24 (95% CI 0.22-0.26) episodes per child year. All children with pneumonia received antibiotic treatment, following WHO guidelines. The highest incidence was in the 2-12 month age group. The commonest diagnosis in a child with RSV-associated pneumonia was non-severe pneumonia (239/362:66.0%), however the incidence of RSV-associated severe or very severe pneumonia was 0.08 (95% CI 0.01-0.10) episodes per child year. Birth in the wet season increased the risk of severe disease in children who had their first episode of RSV-associated pneumonia aged 2-11 months (OR 28.7, 95% CI 6.6-125.0, p<0.001). RSV episodes were highly seasonal being responsible for 80.0% of all the pneumonia episodes occurring each October and November over the study period. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of RSV associated pneumonia in this refugee population. Interventions to prevent RSV infection have the potential to reduce the incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia and hence unnecessary antibiotic usage in this population.

Lubell Y, Ashley EA, Turner C, Turner P, White NJ. 2011. Susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens to antibiotics in Africa and Asia in neonates--an alarmingly short review. Trop Med Int Health, 16 (2), pp. 145-151. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens in neonatal sepsis to commonly prescribed antibiotics in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia since 2002. METHODS: Literature review in PubMed and Embase. Susceptibility was estimated for pathogens individually and stratified by region. Isolates were also classified into Gram positive and Gram negative pathogens to estimate their pooled susceptibility. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Only nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The available data indicated poor susceptibility to almost all commonly used antibiotics in pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella spp. Only Streptococcus pneumoniae exhibited good susceptibility to all drugs other than cotrimoxazole. The extreme scarcity of data prevents drawing any firm conclusions beyond the urgent need for more studies to identify the best treatments for neonatal sepsis in the developing world.

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